Bull himself (Neil Maskell) is not the most sympathetic of heroes. An enforcer for a gang that seems to revel in violence and exploitation without really getting much out of it. Bull has been away for ten years and has returned to find out what has happened to his son, Aiden (Henri Charles).
Memories of his enforcement work are interspersed with tender memories of time spent with his boy. His manner being palpably different depending on the context, Williams manages to sell both sides of Bull, both the loving father and ruthless maniacal punisher. But each seem to compliment the other, as he never speaks to Aiden like a child. He adores the child clearly, but doesn't guard his language around him. Swearing playfully as he carries out the normal parental duties we take for granted.
The question of where Bull has been for the last ten years, and what happened to Aiden are slowly revealed as he works his way through his old gang. Using them to find his son and then taking them out in some very brutal ways.
Williams never shies away from the realism of Bulls actions, giving us full detail of the gore and blood. Anchoring it further by using recognisable British working class landscapes. Run down community centres and average homes are interspersed with the bright lights and colours of a funfair. These are families and homes we recognise, and a world just slightly out of our view.
With echo's of early Bob Hoskins vehicles Mona Lisa and The Long Good Friday, in between more kitchen sink fares like Dead Man's Shoes, Bull still manages to offer something new, keeping you guessing far into the final reel.
The new Limited Edition release from Second Sight has an interesting selection of bonus features but they are unfortunately very sparse by their standards. The story seems ripe for a video essay or a scenic analysis as we have seen on their other releases but unfortunately there are only three interviews with director Paul Andrew Williams, and producers Leonora Darby and Dominic Tighe. This is not to say that the quality of these additions is poor, far from it, but it would be nice to see more. The particular highlight of the interviews is the discussion around steps taken to get the film made during the pandemic. Masks on set, changes to the script and a very short shooting time especially. With this in mind the final quality on screen is seriously impressive. At times adding to the mood of the piece, as the lack of visitors to the funfair in the background speaks to the economic poverty faced by these areas, juxtaposed with the bright spinning lights.
The booklet features essays which are always worth a read, albeit a bit spoilerific so wait until after you've seen the film to read them. The artwork is to their usual standard, feeling particularly prescient after seeing the whole film.
If you are only after the film, this Second Sight release is a brilliant addition to their catalogue, it's just a bit of a shame there isn't more on the disc.
- Audio Commentary with Writer / Director Paul Andrew Williams & Actor Neil Maskell
- Kindness and Rage: a new interview with Director Paul Andrew Williams
- Funfairs, Abattoirs and Burning Caravans: An interview with Producer Dominic Tighe
- Dealing with Fear: An interview with Producer Leonora Darby
Limited Edition Contents
- Rigid slipcase with new artwork by James Neal
- Soft cover book with new essays by Andrew Graves, Elena Lazic & Megan Navarro
- 6 collectors' art cards